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by Linda Etherton
You may have already read Toni’s Teaching Textbook review and how she was unhappy with her daughter’s ACT math scores. But hopefully you also know that there is no curriculum that is right or wrong for every family and every student.
I’d like to give a a different perspective on Teaching Textbooks by sharing why I used it and how it worked out for us.
I used high school level Teaching Textbooks for two of my three students. I believe it was a good choice, but I chose it for both of them for completely different reasons. One really struggled with math and the other really excelled at it.
The Struggling Math Student
For one of my sons, math was that subject that we both dreaded, and over the years, math time often ended in tears. He did learn and grow in his math skills, but the curriculum also kept getting harder. By high school I knew he would not be majoring in anything in college that required much math, and I was tired of math being such a burden to us both.
It was in the middle of a school year that I switched him to Teaching Textbooks, and once I did we never looked back. Math didn’t suddenly become easy for him, but it became manageable. It didn’t cause so much frustration. He was able to follow the lessons and do the problems without it taking all day. He could work independently, and most of the time he used the discs to figure out the problems he got wrong.
I used Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry with this student, and then he went on to community college math. He did have to take a non-credit remedial math class there (which really wasn’t helpful due to a bad teacher), but he did fine with the college algebra class he took the following semester. He will take a statistics class next year, and then be done with math.
The Excelling Math Student
Another son was just the opposite. He was always way ahead in math, and by seventh grade was ready for Algebra 1. Considering that he is also on the young end of his grade level, I wanted something that wasn’t over his head in terms of the word problems that were used. One program that I liked was actually written for college level, and I felt it would be overwhelming for this student.
I did have concerns about Teaching Textbooks not covering enough material or properly preparing him for standardized tests. However, I figured that at the pace he was going, we would have time to go over things again.
He is currently in 11th grade. Last year he finished the pre-calculus book, which is the highest level that Teaching Textbooks goes to. This year I had him spend time doing SAT preparation (including the Chalkdust SAT Math Review), and he enrolled at the local community college for this spring semester.
I was curious to see how he would do on the college’s math placement test. He had no problems, and the woman giving the test was surprised and asked if one of his parents was a math teacher. He placed into the calculus class, but we decided for several reasons to start him with pre-calculus. One reason was that I wanted to be sure he had gotten a good enough pre-calculus course before moving on. I need not have worried. He is easily getting an A in the class.
He has not yet taken the SAT, so I can’t say how well the curriculum prepared him for that. Plus, he did other math preparation anyway. I do know that some people say you need to complete the entire Teaching Textbooks program to get everything. We did that, and it worked for him.
I’m not sure I would recommend Teaching Textbooks for an average learner, but I can say that for us, it worked for the struggling math student and the student who excels and was ahead of schedule with math.
Linda Etherton is the managing editor here at The Happy Housewife. She also blogs about gluten-free living at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.